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State deems LISD ‘Recognized’

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Teachers and school administrators across the state held their collective breath on last week as the Texas Education Agency (TEA) prepared to release accountability ratings for the state’s schools on Friday morning. In Lockhart, the news, though exciting, was not surprising.

For several months, since the preliminary

results of last years Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests were released, LISD administrators thought the district would fare well in the grand scheme of things.

“Faring well” might be an understatement.

Four of the district’s nine campuses earned ratings of “Exemplary,” the highest accountability rating offered by TEA. Three more were rated “Recognized.” Testing is not done at the kindergarten level, and the highest available rating for an alternative high school is “Academically Acceptable” – which is the rating earned by Pride High.

The cumulative effect of the ratings is an overall rating of “Recognized” for the Lockhart Independent School District.

LISD earned a “Recognized” rating last year, as well, but had only two “Exemplary” campuses.

This year, three of the four elementary schools, Bluebonnet, Navarro and Plum Creek
earned “Exemplary” ratings, as did the M.L. Cisneros Freshman Campus. Lockhart High School, Clear Fork Elementary and the Lockhart Junior High School were all “Recognized.”

“The administration is extremely proud of the efforts put forth by our campus and district staff in helping our students continue to grow and achieve in the areas of TAKS performance and completion rate,” Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra said in a written statement on Tuesday. “Many good things are taking place in the LISD and we will continue to pursue greatness at all levels for our students.”

Among those good things, Parra listed in his statement, were repeat ratings of “Exemplary” for Bluebonnet Elementary and the Freshman Campus, as well as the growth in scoring for the other two “Exemplary” campuses.

According to TEA, more rigorous standards were implemented this year to determine a “Recognized” rating. Those standards required 80 percent of all students and each evaluated group to pass the TAKS, as compared to 75 percent in past years. Additionally, the school or district must achieve an 85 percent completion rate with an annual seventh- and eighth-grade dropout rate of 1.8 percent or below.

Of the state’s more than 1,200 school districts, about half, including LISD, were rated “Recognized” this year.

“Many schools and districts earned one of the top ratings by meeting the absolute rating criteria and did not use a progress measure or an exception,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Smith on Friday. “That is because the TAKS passing rates and completion rates went up across the state in 2010, while the dropout rates for grades 7-12 declined compared to the previous year. We saw real progress in our schools this year.”

That progress, evident in not only statewide, but local scoring, is something the Lockhart Independent School District hopes to continue and build upon. One of the LISD Board of Trustees’ main goals for the district is achievement of an “Exemplary” rating – something which administrators have suggested to the board in recent months may be only a hair’s breadth away.

That goal may be at the root of certain changes in leadership at some of the district’s schools for the upcoming year. However, Parra declined a request for comment on those staffing issues.

Of particular note, John Henk, the longtime principal of the Lockhart High School – ML Cisneros Freshman Campus, will be heading up Lockhart Junior High this year. Lora Hardway, formerly the principal of LJHS, will take the helm at the Lockhart Discipline Management Center (LDMC), while LDMC principal Ed Shepperd will relocate to the Freshman Campus, where he will replace Vice Principal Heather Stull, who has been promoted to Principal at that location.

Teachers and administrators will return to their campuses next week in preparation for a new year of teaching and testing. LISD classes begin on Aug. 23, 2010.

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